6 Ways to Preserve Autumn Leaves

What teacher doesn't like using leaves in art projects? They're beautiful, they make for great science learning, and they're free! Prevent those lovely leaves from disappearing too quickly with one of these preservation methods.

1. Press them: Dry your leaves carefully and press them between the pages of a telephone book. Or, place them between sheets of blank newsprint and weight them down. Your leaves will be flat and dry, but may crumble easily.

2. Dip them: Melt some beeswax in a double boiler. Dip each leaf in the wax, giving it a thin, even coat. Allow the wax to solidify before putting the leaf down.

3. Iron them: Place a leaf between two pieces of waxed paper. Put a towel or cloth on top and press with a warm iron. Remove the cloth and cut around the leaf, or try peeling away the waxed paper to see what you get.

4. Plasticize them: Combine one cup glycerin with two cups water and mix well. (You can get glycerin at drug and health food stores.) Pour the mixture into a shallow pan. Place fresh leaves in the pan and lay a sheet of paper on top of them. Put small stones on top to loosely weigh everything down. (I understand some people have had success just putting the tips of leaf stems or even whole branches in the solution, although I haven't tried it.) Leave for about a week; remove and rinse. The leaves won't seem very different, but they'll stay soft and lifelike for a long time.

5. Nuke them: Put 2-3 leaves in the microwave under a paper towel. Microwave for 30 seconds or so. You can also get a special microwaveable desiccant silica gel to place the leaves in first. It better controls the rate and evenness of drying.

6. Laminate them: Run them through a laminating machine. Make sure they're dry first, or the lamination won't stick.

Thanks for reading! I hope you keep coming back, because soon I'm going to be posting a bunch of projects and ideas for using those wonderful leaves.

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